Whither the Ugly Sidewalk Shed, Slayer of Urban Vitality?

One of the more pernicious byproducts of building renovations in this city may be getting less noxious.

Sidewalk sheds—the ugly one-story scaffolds that line every mid-sized or tall building in the city at one time or another during renovation, inspection and construction—can now take another form. The Bloomberg administration announced Thursday the winner of its sidewalk shed design competition, with the winner being Young-Hwan Choi, a first-year architecture student at Penn who designed a new scheme evocative of an array of colorful umbrellas. The key development: the design will be approved for use by the Department of Buildings, giving building owners and renovators the ability to erect the sheds anywhere they please.

Long injurious to the required thick-steel-poled, drab-colored-plywood-lined, dark and often smelly scaffolds are required for work on exteriors of buildings, lest a nail or brick or anything else fall onto pedestrians below. And they go up quite frequently: the exteriors of all buildings over five stories must be inspected every five years. The colors are usually green or sandstone—many of the companies each have their own signature colors—and urban planners decry the way in which the sheds detract from the life of the street, blanketing the sidewalk in a dark, pole-filled cover.

A model of the new design will go up in Lower Manhattan. 


  Whither the Ugly Sidewalk Shed, Slayer of Urban Vitality?